Louise Ritchie

Community Outreach Manager


I began my working life working at The National Office of Census and Surveys now The Office of National Statistics (ONS). After moving to Sheffield to obtain a Business Degree, I continued with my interest in working with data and secured a job as a research assistant at The Policy Research Centre (Sheffield Hallam University). It was here I began my research and teaching career, working on a number of social, economic and educational research projects and teaching as part of a team of lecturers delivering an undergraduate programme.

In 2001 I took up a new challenge, a research role at the University of Sheffield, working as part of a team evaluating the progress of a South Yorkshire Sure Start scheme. This led to a variety of research roles within The School of Education including a number of projects which focused on literacy acquisition both in the early years and into adulthood.

Recently, research interests have focused on the experiences of mature students, as well as exploring innovative teaching pedagogies for this group and I am currently registered for a PhD which seeks to explore object based pedagogies in the context of widening participation to higher education.


I have been teaching in the higher education sector since 1996. Most recently in my role as a Community Outreach Manager I been responsible for leading The ‘Discover’ course, a free 10-week course offered by the Department for Lifelong Learning aimed at adult learners who are interested in studying for a degree. As well as overall responsibility for the content of the course I contribute to ‘My Community’, ‘My Education’, ‘Next Steps’ and ‘Celebration’ sessions.

My role within DLL: Community Outreach Manager (jobshare)

Since 2010 I have worked on a job-share basis within the Department for Lifelong Learning at the University of Sheffield. The ‘Community Outreach Manager’ role aims to enhance progression pathways to the university for adult learners within the Sheffield city region and involves networking with local and regional adult education providers, raising awareness of our courses, and I am responsible for the organisation and delivery of the Discover Course.


Alongside my role within the Department for Lifelong Learning I am currently working as a Research Associate on a five year project called ‘Imagine: Connecting Communities Through Research’. This is an AHRC and ESRC funded project which is exploring the ways in which communities are changing. I am involved in the ‘Cultural’ strand of the project led by Professor Kate Pahl. A coproduction between several university departments and Museums Sheffield, this part of the project is based on the latest developments of Park Hill flats and I am responsible for recording the oral histories of both current and ex residents.

Previous projects include

"Vocational Learners and Transitions in Further and Higher Education", research that aimed to develop an understanding of the culture within a Russell Group university as experienced by learners who had gained access to the university with non-traditional qualifications. The research involved in-depth, qualitative exploration of learners’ experiences, motivations and decision-making.

National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy (NRDC)/University of Sheffield) project, "Improving the quality of teaching and learning in adult literacy"; working as part of a team (as lead researcher on the reading fluency strand of the project) investigating the effectiveness of three different adult literacy teaching strategies, namely phonics, oral reading fluency and sentence combining.

"Learning Together: a research project", undertaken by the University of Surrey and the University of Sheffield for the Learning and Skills Development Agency, exploring the significance of age mixing in teaching and learning in a number of adult education settings.